by Melissa Barnes 

I love the part in It’s a Wonderful Life when people all over town are praying for George Bailey. You can hear their prayers lifted up to God in unison, and it sounds like a beautiful chorus.

A lot of amazing people have prayed for my family recently as we have journeyed through an adoption. On one such day when we were waiting for an important, time-critical clearance that just wasn’t coming, I had a shocking realization. I had verbally requested, texted, and posted on Facebook to numerous people asking for prayers over this situation but had not spoken one word of petition myself. I was so horrified that I had to stop driving and repent immediately.

I wish I could say this was the first time I have done this, but it isn’t.

The day that this occurred, I wondered how God viewed my oversight. I wondered how significant my own prayer really was. How do others’ intercessory prayers intermingle with our own personal petitions?

God brought to mind the familiar verses of Matthew 7:7-8: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened(NIV’84).

I wonder if our personal petitions are the keys that unlock all of the other prayers lifted on our behalf? While, I have no theological backing to this idea, I found it highly motivating to me as a praying person. I know God wants me to present the desires of my heart to Him, but all too often, I rely on others to do that for me. This is symptomatic of a larger problem—that of looking to man before God.

When something big happens in my life—good or bad—I often pick up the phone. I may call my husband or text a friend. I may update my status on Facebook or send a quick email to someone. But God is always present, always available, and always interested in what I have to tell him—AND in what I want to ask. He should be the first person I go to with big news or with a need.

James 4:2 tells us, “You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God” (NIV’84).

I wonder how many times God has withheld blessings and answers because I failed to turn to Him first or to turn to Him on my own behalf. Thankfully, He is a God of grace and undeserved mercy, and He has chosen to bless His people despite themselves.

I appreciate all of the prayers that friends and strangers have offered to the LORD on my behalf. I have felt the power of prayer in mighty ways over the preceding weeks. Theologically sound or not, I now see my own prayers as critical to “turning up the volume” on the chorus of prayers others lift up for me. I desire for God to be the first person I “call” with big news or needs.

He promises to respond: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know”  (Jeremiah 33:3, NIV’84).

Who do you call first with the problems and news of your life? Do you intercede on your own behalf? This week, how can you draw closer to the One who truly meets your needs?